Boulter's to Bray Swim

"An historic event on this beautiful stretch of the Thames"

10 GoodGymers have supported Boulter's to Bray Swim with 2 tasks.

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Windsor and Maidenhead runner
Amy L
Amy L (she/her)
Windsor and Maidenhead runner

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Windsor and MaidenheadCommunity mission
Jess Smith
Kate OswaldClara DiazAbdulaziz Esse

Early birds catch the car keys and flip flops

Saturday 1st July 2023

Written by Amy L (she/her)

Rivers are so lazy...they never get out of their beds! Unlike this keen group of GoodGymers, who got up at 5am and headed to the river to help out at the Boulters to Bray Swim.

This Bray-lliant annual event sees Bray-ve swimmers taking on one of three course options - the 'Boulter's Mile' from Ray Mill Island to the Rowing Club, the classic 2.8km 'Boulters to Bray' or the 5km 'Historic Swim' all the way from Cliveden to Bray.

The races start around 6am and most swimmers finish before my alarm would be going off for parkrun. This is to avoid boat traffic, but it also makes the whole event feel secret and surreal. You could walk your dog along the river around 7am and never realise that 250 people in wetsuits had swum by just moments before, and I'm sure a few of us are looking back on the morning now and wondering if it really happened at all, or whether it was just a stream...

Our main duties were carried out before the races started. From about 5.40am we were busy:

  • writing numbers on swimmers

  • collecting 'wetsuit disclaimer forms'

  • collecting car keys from very trusting swimmers and hoping the rain didn't completely wash away the name labels (we definitely didn't want to turn swimmers into swingers!)

  • collecting swimmers' flip flops and putting them in bags to be delivered to whichever finish point they were aiming for, so they wouldn't have to walk down the towpath barefoot at the end;

  • checking off swimmers' numbers as they entered the (rather Boult-ic!) Thames, so that the organisers could keep track of who/how many people were in the water;

  • saying hi to lots of swimmers and wishing them all luck - including GoodGymers and MAC friends Kelley (who went on to do parkrun with me and Sophie after her swim), Matt S (who went on to win the Mile race!), Wendy, Fran and Alain, and lots more familiar faces.

Once we'd waved off the swimmers doing the mile and 2.8km courses, Sophie headed to the Rowing Club, where she put her heart and sole into hosing off swimmers' feet (and her own socks).

The rest of us meandered to marshal positions to cheer and guide the heroic 'Historic Swim'mers from upstream of Boulters lock back into the water on Ray Mill Island. They had already swum further than I've ever managed in one go, yet they were smiling and looking strong - inspirational! It was particularly great to see GoodGym and MAC friends Jen, Ros and Alice in this group.

Rachel and I also amalgamated the rain-soaked lists of numbers from the number checkers onto one 'master' sheet to be taken to the finish - a river-ting task!

We then said goodbye to Rachel, who had to dash to work, and then Sheila, Jess, Clara and I joined Sophie at the Rowing Club. Having got the most time critical duties out of the way, we could now go with the flow a bit more and enjoy some breakfast whilst directing swimmers into the Rowing Club, helping to hand out t-shirts and doing the car key task in river-se.

Having chatted to lots of swimmers during our earlier duties, it was lovely to see them again at the end and to be able to congratulate them. Swimming a long way down a river might not be everyone's idea of fun, but these guys had had the Thames of their lives!

Despite the rain creating some challenges at the start, the whole thing went swimmingly. Thanks to task owners Fee and Liz for welcoming us and well done team - more good deeds in the (river) bank! Weir already lock-ing forward to next year...

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Windsor and MaidenheadCommunity mission
Amy L
Jess Smith

Early birds quacking up at Boulters to Bray

Saturday 2nd July 2022

Written by Windsor and Maidenhead runner

The 5am start may just be our earliest task start time ever for Windsor and Maidenhead. What a beautiful morning to do good deeds. GoodGymers Sheila, Tara, Amy, Amanda, Sara and Kelley were bright eyed when they met at Ray Mill Island in Maidenhead to support swimmers doing 5km, 2.8km or 1.4km open water river swims. After a quick safety briefing the team got straight to work.

Amanda and Sara did not flop on their flip-flop duties and strung together hundreds of pairs of clogs and sandals to meet their owners at the end of their races. Amy, Tara and Sheila took responsibility for labelling swimmers' keys to ensure no one arrived in a Ferrari but left in a Fiesta! Kelley was our keen photographer capturing all the adventures.

After the swimmers left the start line, the team turned to marshalling duties to greet and direct the swimmers doing the longer historic 5km route all the way from Cliveden. Then it was onto the final stage of signing posting people out of the water, hosing down feet and handing out medals, bacon sarnies and hot tea to the chilly but cheerful swimmers at the end of the race. Some of the team even caught a glimpse of Olympian Tom Dean who was amongst the swimmers. Overall it was a great event and the GoodGym team are ex-stream-ly keen to come back and help again next year!

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